industry insider | Feb 4, 2021 |
Is 1stDibs about to launch a billion-dollar IPO?

1stDibs may be eyeing an IPO. Yesterday Bloomberg reported that the luxury resale giant has reached out to banks to lead an initial public offering sometime this year. The rumored valuation? $1 billion.

The article cited unnamed sources, and suggested that the plans aren’t set in stone. 1stDibs declined to comment. However, if the early signs are true, it won’t be an entirely shocking development. The company is coming up on its 20th anniversary, and its earliest investors are likely itching for a return—to say nothing of subsequent backers, ranging from Alibaba to Artemis, that have plowed a collective $253 million into 1stDibs over the past decade. On top of that, a confluence of factors make this year a compelling time to take the leap.

First, 2020 saw e-commerce in all forms skyrocket. Second, as the stock market rebounded from its mid-March nadir with a vengeance, the rich got richer, fattening the pockets of 1stDibs’s affluent customer base. Finally, after WeWork’s 2019 IPO debacle spooked the market and Casper’s early 2020 debut underwhelmed, the appetite for initial public offerings has bounced back along with the market. In short, the timing is right.

However, it’s also possible that the IPO buzz is only a prelude to a private sale. Industry insiders have long speculated whether 1stDibs has been grooming itself as an acquisition target for the likes of eBay or Amazon. Rumors of an initial public offering have a way of focusing a potential buyer’s attention and hastening a deal.

If 1stDibs does IPO this year, what does it mean for the dealers who stock its digital shelves, and the designers who source from the site? It’s tough to say. IPOs tend to mainly benefit investors and executives, and don’t always have an immediate impact on the day-to-day operations of the company.

However, 1stDibs has shown a willingness in recent years to spend heavily on its trade program, offering cashback perks and industry-unique benefits like free returns. If the company goes public and raises a bundle, it’s possible that such incentives will get even more compelling for designers. However, once a company goes public, its books are open for scrutiny. If the stock starts to slip and investors push for a leaner operation, 1stDibs may feel compelled to pull back on bells and whistles for the trade or hike pricing for dealers. Only time will tell.

Homepage: A living room by Robert Stilin, featured on the cover of 1stDibs’s Introspective magazine | Stephen Kane

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